Originally published on Advocate.com August 21 2003 12:00 AM ET
A gay man has sued United Parcel Service Inc., alleging that his longtime employer discriminated against him by rejecting his request for an out-of-state transfer as he sought to follow his partner to Chicago. Daniel Kline, 47, of San Francisco, sued Atlanta-based UPS in Alameda County, Calif., superior court on Tuesday, alleging that the company's Management Initiated Transfer Policy violates the Federal Employment and Housing Act's prohibitions on marital status discrimination. Kline and his partner, Frank Sories, 51, are seeking damages and a court declaration that the UPS policy is illegal. The suit says married UPS managers and supervisors have been granted transfers to other UPS offices under the company's policy. "If Daniel and Frank could be married, as they would like to do, this lawsuit wouldn't be necessary," said Kline's lawyer, Jon Davidson, of the New York-based Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "UPS treated Daniel as if he and Frank were strangers."
Kline requested a transfer to Chicago last year after Sories's employer, United Airlines, closed its San Francisco office. Sories is 3 1/2 years from becoming eligible for retirement from the company he's worked at for 18 years, and the suit said it was financially necessary for him to make the move. Kline sought to follow Sories's move east, as the two have been in a committed relationship for 27 years. But according to the suit, UPS denied the transfer because Sories was not his spouse. For the past eight months the couple have lived apart. "I have to leave work and return to an empty house. I can't even call it a home anymore," Kline said at a press conference, his voice cracking with emotion. Both he and Sories are plaintiffs in the case.
The case was filed in Alameda County because Kline works at UPS's Oakland office. "We're not gay activists. I'm not looking to change the world or redefine what marriage is," Kline said. A UPS spokeswoman, Paula Smith, said Tuesday that the company has recently begun offering relocation for domestic partners. "This policy went into effect earlier this year and was going to be broadly communicated to all of our employees as part of the annual benefit enrollment process scheduled to begin in mid September," Smith said. Kline said he was initially informed that his transfer request to work at the UPS Metro Chicago office had been lost. He resubmitted the request, but it was denied by UPS's corporate personnel department, according to the suit.